A collective reflection on the lessons learned while teaching facilitation.
ICAD would like to illustrate the various obstacles and moments of growth we experienced as a group during our MYMOM workshop. This was a significant facilitation for our affiliates because it was the first in which they were working independently, without Dr. Britt there for guidance.
Check out what each individual learned…
“Going into the facilitation we had created a thorough outline showcasing the evening’s plans, as well as highlighting the room’s set up and necessary materials. When we arrived at Festival prior to the workshop we began to notice that things were not going to go according to plan. First, the reserved room was not big enough for the setup we’d envisioned. We were going to create small-group tables for the participants in order to utilize the World Café model but ultimately had to rethink our plans. We managed to find the building coordinator and switch to a bigger room, that was conveniently right down the hall. This room did not have the proper tables either and we had to come together and think of a new plan for the room arrangement.
The second issue that we ran into was lack of supplies; we had planned on covering all tables with large sheets of white paper, but as we were unrolling the paper we ran out. We quickly thought on our feet and were able to gain access to a nearby club room that was able to provide us with paper. What we took away from this experience was that things do not always go according to plan and that you can never be too prepared, but in instances like this one it is best to come together and think on your feet. We were able to work together as a group and pull off a facilitation that was extremely beneficial for the MYMOM leaders. Although there were things we could’ve done to avoid these mishaps, we gained a glimpse into real world situations in which things might go awry. I’m proud to say that as a group we handled it perfectly.”
-Tagne Van de Wall
“In my experience, facilitations never go as planned. That does not mean that they carry out poorly–it means that you have to be prepared for whatever role is thrown your way.
In my case, I was given the role of facilitating Public Conversations Project, with a topic of cultural appropriation, right before our ‘meta-facilitation’ type workshop for Make Your Mark on Madison began. I have to admit that while I may have been willing and ready, I was extremely anxious. Had I known that this was going to be my role, I would’ve prepared by running different scenarios in my head.
As part of the demonstration, we had planned disturbances to show how to maneuver around challenging participants. I’d never really encountered any disturbances previously, so I found myself stumbling for the right (albeit pre-scripted) words in the moment. It was difficult to be an example of how to handle disruptions perfectly regardless of how much I had practiced and trained, especially considering I was given this role minutes before the event. In all my time as a facilitator, this was my most trying moment. Looking back, I recognize that this was personally more difficult for me because I was teaching others, not just facilitating. That pressure was difficult to shake.
After all was said and done, I found that I had grown since taking the training course last semester in aiding positive conversation. I have to say that it went pretty well. Mostly because my team so encouraging and reassuring.
With an amazing team, confidence, and preparation, you will come out with an immense amount of growth in your communication skills and a newfound appreciation for positive, productive conversation.”
“Our MYMOM facilitation was very unique in the sense that we were not facilitating for a specific topic. Previously, we’d discuss very specific issues that applied to the groups we were facilitating for. However, for MYMOM we were trying to teach them how to use different models of facilitation. So we decided to use vaguer questions such as “What makes a good question?” and “What is closure?”. While these are good hypothetical questions that helped us demonstrate how to best create dialogue in certain facilitation models, their abstract nature made it difficult to get participants to engage. The lack of responses made it tough to highlight what certain models have to offer. However, it was still a good learning experience as it challenged me to adjust throughout the facilitation and adapt to the conversation–adapting in a way that clarified what we were asking of the attendees, so that they were more willing to participate.
This experience exposed us to the difficulty of training within your field of expertise, specifically the difficulty of training while doing. Our MYMOM facilitation was overall a great success and it taught me a lot about how to best teach facilitation models to others.”
Don’t know what MYMOM is? Check them out here